Graduate Student Mental Health and Well-being

    A growing body of evidence indicates that mental health challenges are common among graduate students. Unfortunately, many barriers exist to effective support and care. These include campus services that do not always recognize the unique needs of graduate students, and a lack of evidence about what types of support are best suited to master's and doctoral students. Students may also experience different sources of stress and levels of comfort in seeking help, depending upon their background.


    CGS has embarked on a two-year project, Supporting Mental Health and Wellness of Graduate Students, in collaboration with The Jed Foundation, a non-profit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults. This initiative will create a foundation for evidence-based policies and resources to support graduate student mental health and well-being, prevent psychological distress, and address barriers to effective support and care. CGS and JED will give particular attention to the experiences of underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities pursuing graduate education. A grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will support the council’s focus on issues specific to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, while a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support the council’s work in the humanities. This project will address these and other concerns across all broad fields of graduate study.


    Project Overview

    Throughout the project, we are seeking guidance from an advisory committee of experts and graduate education leaders (see below), who will provide input on the research and action plan. In addition, CGS will survey its member institutions to better understand existing policies and practices for supporting graduate student mental health and factors that may impact the design and delivery of services. In 2020, graduate deans, graduate students, mental health researchers, and other experts will convene virtually in October for a one-and-half-day workshop. The final project outcomes will include a report and a statement of common principles for supporting graduate student mental health. 


    Advisory Committee (Full List with Short Bios)

    • Dr. Paul J. Barreira, former Director, Harvard University Health Services; and Henry K. Oliver Professor of Hygiene and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
    • Dr. Hollie Chessman, Research Fellow, Center for Policy Research and Strategy, American Council on Education
    • Dr. Jan Collins-Eaglin, Scientific Advisor, The Steve Fund
    • Dr. Michael Cunningham, Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and Research, Tulane University
    • Dr. Daniel Eisenberg, S.J. Axelrod Collegiate Professor in Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan
    • Dr. Andres Gil, Vice President for Research and Economic Development and Dean of the University Graduate School, Florida International University 
    • Ms. Susanna Harris, CEO Founder, PhD Balance and 2020 doctoral recipient in microbiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • Dr. Paula McClain, Dean of The Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Duke University
    • Dr. Suzanne Ortega (Ex-Officio), President, Council of Graduate Schools
    • Dr. Susan Porter, Dean and Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, University of British Columbia and President, Canadian Association for Graduate Studies
    • Dr. Sally Pratt,  Vice Provost for Graduate Programs, University of Southern California
    • Dr. Nance Roy (Ex-Officio),  Chief Clinical Officer, The Jed Foundation and Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry
    • Dr. Barry Schreier,  Director of the University Counseling Service and Professor of Counseling Psychology, The University of Iowa
    • Dr. Tammi Vacha-Haase,  Dean of the Graduate College, Boise State University and President-Elect, Western Association of Graduate Schools


    Press Releases

    New Initiative to Support Graduate Student Mental Health and Wellness (8.20.2019)


    Other Resources

    Hironao Okahana, "Pressing Issue: Mental Wellness of Graduate Students" (4.9.2018)




    Julia Kent

    Hironao Okahana


    In Partnership with












    Project Funders




    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.